The Horsham GP issue is a problem that could have been avoided. It’s not rocket science - more houses, more people, growing elderly patients needing more GPs’ nurses and services. As a patient rep on many different forums in the past we have given the authorities notice of such difficulties many years ago when the BBH plans were first being talked about.
So why were they allowed to build the houses and sell them without any consideration to the public facilities that the people would need to use?
When the house build is finished BBH will be as big as Southwater and or Billingshurst and deserves a GP practice / health centre of their own. Though just reshuffling the same GPs will not answer the problem of there not being enough GPs, nurses etc to do the work.
It has to be acknowledged that GPs are private businesses operating within the NHS. They are funded for every patient they have registered with them, at the same standard level what ever the age or health complexity of the patient. So it can make good business sense to pile the patient numbers high in order, dare I say it, to treat them cheaper.
GPs can also raise money from renting out any extra space for other services and smaller practices will not have the room to do this. The fact that the funding is done in this way may be one of the causes of growing public discontent with the service, an issue no doubt the NHS will have to revisit some time in the future.
At present most of the GP surgeries are in the centre of the town and have no room for expansion even if there were more GPs. Just keeping on piling the numbers of patients into any of the Horsham practice will not improve patient satisfaction or outcomes from the service.
I hear about the difficulties for disabled people and the elderly getting to BBH, though by the same token has anyone given thought to how disabled people living in BBH, Warnham, Slinfold, Faygate, Rusper and Mannings Heath etc get to see a GP in Horsham town centre.
In a village the size of Partridge Green there are two branch surgeries (converted houses), one from Henfield, one from Cowfold, offering GP appointments, practice nurse, phlebotomy and dispensary services.
If there was a surgery or health facility in BBH that could accommodate some new GPs (if they can be found) for the new residents needing to register, and also accommodating GP clinics from the centre surgeries on different days, so that practices could offer their existing patients from BBH and surrounding villages a service closer to home. This should relieve some pressure on space at the centre surgeries in the town centre in the short term at least.
It might also mean that these surgeries could then have more free space to provide more services in the town centre and Horsham Hospital could house any specialised GP clinics. This is far more of an evolutionary approach (and there might be others) than the one plan of a take it or leave it.
Other solutions could involve moving one or more of the surgeries to the hospital or having a shared GP space at the hospital. Or doing more mobile surgeries, nursing and phlebotomy, a bit like some of the screening services from big adapted mobile units, visiting outlying villages taking services to the patient. This would be of a great help to patients especially the elderly who need regular blood tests early morning as in fasting tests, that require a bus journey in all weathers to the hospital or centre surgeries before 9.30 before they can use their bus passes.
I am not sure if BBH patients and public have been consulted with or about where they would like to see a surgery provided. It might be better to have one on or just off the main street near to the bus routes, though with more houses being planned for North Horsham and other plans being proposed for the Kingsfold area it may be better to build a GP practice for all the new builds in the Warnham area.
While all this discussion and decision making is going on it might be an idea to look into whether GP practices in Billingshurst and Dorking have spare capacity to take on more patients.
With the increase in population there will be a need for more leisure facilities, especially at BBH so it seems strange that the new leisure centre being built to replace the old will offer less sport and leisure facilities than the old one. The reason given for this is that there is not enough space yet there is enough space to build a GP surgery a point that will not be missed by those campaigning to save the old leisure centre.
Some good news that has emerged are the proposals to increase the use of Horsham Hospital with a musculoskeletal service spoke with backing from NHS England of £400,000 and in giving consideration to where to house a Health and Wellbeing Hub then the hospital could be an ideal place as its central near the Pavilions and the leisure facilities in the park with good rail and bus routes.